Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Feeding the frenzy: Core Values, Week 3

If what they say is true, that abs are made in the kitchen, than I can tell you this: my abs are made of pumpkin pie ice cream and emotional baggage.

Things here have been stressful and frustrating. I've been melancholy and almost lethargic. It's partly the weather - a seeming endless barrage of snow and frigid cold - which canceled a trip to visit my beloved grandma, and it's partly other things that don't belong here on the blog.

Regardless, it's led me to find comfort in food and my focus to shift away from things, like my Core Values challenge, into a hazy fog. I'm not overly anxious about it - things are/will improve, and I'm not lost. Just temporarily misplaced.

I'd be lying, though, if I didn't feel a bit of guilt that I was slumped on the couch on Friday night and couldn't will myself off for even one round of crunches much less 5 minutes. I had promised myself to make my core a priority - and I had promised you. The dynamic workout that I was hoping to incorporate didn't happen as my schedule has been thrown off by Miles.

Excuses or reasons - you decide.

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Check in: But, I did get in six out of seven days and I'm seeing some improvement. I am able to do single leg planks and straight-leg bird dog exercises. I am much more stable in single-leg bridges and zippers. Again, I've found that my core is less sore than the previous week.

Of interest: The January edition of ACE's Pro Source showed up in my email today, and one of the articles was about core work. Imagine that! In "Reality Check: Are Planks Really the Best Core Exercise," the author explores the popularity of the exercise and whether trainers should continue to include it in programming. I found it really interesting as I really like planks but I find the epic plank holds to be rather single-minded and unnecessary. The experts interviewed came in on both sides but Dr. Wayne Westcott, instructor of exercise science at Quincy College and co-author of ACE’s Guide to Youth Strength Training, made a great point:
"To build muscle strength, you need to activate the muscle to near fatigue, within the anaerobic energy system, which typically takes 60 to 90 seconds. Any exercise that takes longer (including planks held beyond that range) doesn’t address muscle strength or size.”
The article suggest adding plank variations and alternatives to core programming for more well-rounded training.

Exercises to try this week: Plank on a stability ball, knee tuck on stability ball, side plank with lower leg lift, Russian twist, Pilates swimming exercise and weighted glute bridge

How are you doing? What do you think of planks? Be sure to comment to be entered in the challenge giveaway, which includes products from NAAWK, SmartWool, Nuun and Clif Bar.

17 comments:

  1. Four days for me last week. That was all. :-/

    I actually hate planks. Especially side planks. On of my daily mile friends got herself up to a 7 minute plank and I kind of didn't see the point in that...

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    1. My PT said that anything over a minute was unnecessary, and I definitely see the point. You're building endurance not strength at that point. Although endurance could be good for a half marathon. I don't know. Me needs sleep.

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  2. I missed a day this week too -- just didn't happen with a busy week. So, I feel you. Back at it this week for both of us!

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    1. Here's to a better week all the way around!

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  3. I'm about every other day with zippers (which I now loooove) and increasing reps. Generally I'm trying to run, zip, shower, and maybe pump before Kate gets up so I'm definitely not doing 5 min!

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    1. Too bad you can't plank and nurse. Just sayin'. Maybe wall sits?

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  4. I am with you on the abs made of junk and baggage. I've been going first to carrots/hummus in the afternoons lately and my abs are already thanking me but still so not as good as I could be on the no-junk front. That said I can plank like a boss: blame it on being very short waisted. I do feel nice and strong and tight when I'm planking regularly, however maybe I don't need the epic 10-minute ones.

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    1. Carrots and hummus is far better than the sugar show I've been putting on.

      A 10-minute plank? OMG. You are my hero. I might have bias against long planks because I don't really work up to them.

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  5. Sometimes, life gets in the way of training and it gets us down. Glad you are back in the saddle and seeing progress. Just the progress alone is often a motivator to keep going. And…I love planks and core work!

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  6. I did all my days this week and am finding it easier to remember and squeeze in each night! I don't mind planks, I am more of a fan of the straight arm ones rather than the forearm ones...probably because they seem easier!

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    1. Awesome! I prefer straight arm planks because, when done right, it's a much more involved exercise as it works the shoulder girdle and upper back.

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  7. I joke that the best thing about breaking my arm last spring was that I couldn't do planks for 4 months! Seriously, I'm not a plank fan, though I do them intermittently. But I really like "stealth core" exercises better -- kettlebell swings are a great example. They work your core but don't feel like "core" exercises. Lately I've been doing more specifically core stuff in the weight room (situp variations, back and side extensions, leg raises, etc) and I find that the variety keeps me interested.

    Despite being a plank-hater, I do think core strength is key for endurance running. It helps you hang onto good form even 6 hours into a run. And I know I wouldn't have been able to keep ultra-training after breaking my arm if I didn't have good core strength. Running with a cast was definitely extra work!

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    1. "Stealth core" - I love it. I've been eying a kettlebell lately - Mark even proposed getting me one for my birthday when we were at Target. I like doing single leg exercises for that reason as you have to engage the core to do it.

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  8. Sorry to hear that you've been stressed and melancholy. Winter can be a tough time of year in the Upper Midwest. We just installed full-spectrum light bulbs in a lot of our house to try to fend off the wintertime blues. Can you get out and spend time with a friend? That's a nice mental reset sometimes. Hope things get better for you soon.

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    1. Thank you. A couple of my co-workers have the happy lights, and I've thought about trying it. And I am trying to get out, setting run dates even when it's cold and early. It's a good distraction until things sort of fade away.

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  9. I have been so anxious to read ProSource all week, once I saw that plank article! The blurb you shared makes so much sense :)

    I hope things get better for you soon!

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  10. I love these thoughts of yours. Everyone has their lower times when it comes to fitness..but that's what makes the better times great! I love the thoughts on planks and reaching that muscle size/strength time. I personally don't do planks that much, but its a good one!

    xoxo Sarah Grace, Fresh Fit N Healthy.

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